Dec 14th

Qualitative Noun Question Finally Answered

Perhaps you’ve been following the saga of Sushibox and the Case of the Confusing Qualitative Noun in the comments section. I searched high and low, and could find only information on Greek grammar and theological concepts. I finally went to the experts at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University, and posed Sushibox’s question to them. Below is their answer.

Purely Qualitative nouns are more of a Greek grammatical concept than an English one; however, our research confirms that this concept does carry over into English. The final example you give is not, as you note, qualitative because “angelic” is an adjective. However, certain nouns can be purely qualitative with linking verb constructions, for example, “love is war,” “war is hell,” “God is love,” etc. In all these examples, the predicative nominative defines the quality of the subject nominative, while still remaining as a noun grammatically and semantically. So, to answer your inquiry, there are a few nouns in English that can function purely qualitatively.

Best Regards,

OWL Mail

Comments

Comments on “Qualitative Noun Question Finally Answered”

Nouns purely qualitative? said:

You wrote:
However, certain nouns can be purely qualitative with linking verb constructions, for example, “love is war,” “war is hell,” “God is love,” etc. In all these examples, the predicative nominative defines the quality of the subject nominative, while still remaining as a noun grammatically and semantically. So, to answer your inquiry, there are a few nouns in English that can function purely qualitatively.

Actually saying:
“love is war,”

War is a count noun, that is indefinite, it is not purely qualitative…. It is IQ. If I said Love is THE War, then it would be definite qualitative. So it is not JUST qualitative.

“war is hell,”
Hell is an indefinite mass noun

“God is love,”
Love is an indefinite mass noun as well. Also love and God are not convertible terms. So love is not just qualitative…

So none of these are JUST qualitative. All nouns by definition are either definite or indefinite. So they can be partly qualitative, but are also indefinite or definite.

Thanks anyway.

parkrome said:

It is not clear that you have made the case that “qualitative” nouns are anything other than a noun that constitutes the name of a quality as used. In your sentence “love” is the name of a quality, not an object-used-as-a-quality. That is entirely different from “hell” which is used as a metaphor and remains the name of an object/place, and not the name of a quality. I suggest you lack any argument for conflating (not to be confused with intensional orientations) object nouns asserting mere class membership into (potentially contested) “qualitative” nouns.

Nouns used as intensional orientations are not the same as nouns that name qualities since the former always includes the specified object as a class member in its reference as used and the latter does not. Metaphors are not the names of qualities but of objects of unspecified but vaguely implied intensional orientation.

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